SETP Vol. 2 Chapter 3
Chapter 3 – Zerum Barbatos
Several hours after Feli and Lychaine were told to spend time freely, it was already well into the evening.
The sky was painted in the gentle light of dusk. The leaden clouds that dotted it created a stark contrast of colors.
Recently, the kingdom of Rinchelle often saw covered skies. If the weather turned worse and it started raining, the seas would surely turn rough, which would affect the departure of ships too. Feli thus looked at the sky with concern.
“Hopefully the weather won’t turn to rain.”
With a wry smile, she turned her concern into words.
The remote island where the Rainbow Flower bloomed was only accessible by ship.
If it rained, the seas would turn rough. So she whispered a wish for the weather not to turn to rain.
The battle awaiting them was already worrying enough, so if at least the weather could hold…
Just as they were immersed in such thoughts…
A familiar voice could be heard nearby.
Feli looked with more attention and saw Welles’ group, which they had separated from several hours before.
The first one to notice them and speak was Grerial.
Feli and Lychaine were next to notice and leisurely approached them.
“Oh, perfect timing.”
They were probably looking for them, as Rowle’s words suggested.
They probably did the negotiations while eating: the smell of food and coffee emanated from them. There was also a faint scent of alcohol, so because of her young age, Lychaine grimaced a little.
“Yes, we wanted to introduce him to Princess Lychaine and the others.”
Rowle then looked towards a man.
“Let me introduce you, he is…”
Before Rowle continued, Lychaine looked in the direction of the man.
He was about 1.90 m (6’2f) tall and was dressed in rather suspicious-looking clothes.
He wore a black hooded coat, which showed outlines of weapons here and there. His main weapon was probably a large scythe, as he carried it over his back, with the blade pointed down.
All his clothes were black, and because of the hood most of his face wasn’t visible, which added to his overall creepy atmosphere.
“The ‘Faraway Hollow’, Zerum Barbatos.”
The very sinister appearance of the man made Feli and Lychaine think that it couldn’t be the right person, but after he was introduced so clearly, they had to accept it.
They couldn’t help but feel worried if they could really trust him however.
After being introduced, Zerum Barbatos’ expression shifted just a little, and for a short while he looked intently at Feli and Lychaine.
Afterwards his expression turned into an annoyed frown and he sighed loudly.
“This isn’t what you told me, ‘Immortal’…”
He then continued, with venom in his voice.
“I only accepted because I heard there were three members on par with ‘Heroes’ in the party. And another member who could look for the flower. I only came because it was a request from you, ‘Immortal’, but…”
Zerum then looked in turn at Lychaine, Feli, Welles, and Grerial before continuing.
“I only see brats here. You really think this party will be able to find the Rainbow Flower?”
Zerum spoke in a harsh, coarse tone.
Hearing such derisive words, anyone would be annoyed. Lychaine, the young-looking Feli, Grerial and Welles — both in their twenties — were aware of being young, so they chose not to talk back.
“I’m not a babysitter, you hear?”
“I know that you don’t have much time left either though.”
Zerum clicked his tongue in irritation and walked past Rowle. He then turned and walked in front of not Lychaine, but Feli, for whatever reason.
“…you’re an elf, huh?”
Long, pointy ears and doll-like facial features.
Zerum had noticed her distinctive characteristics.
“…my name is Feli von Yugstine.”
“Feli von Yugstine…”
The name probably reminded Zerum of something.
After thinking for a while, he spoke again.
“Your surname…you’re from the priestess clan?”
Zerum’s words left Feli wide-eyed. How did he know? She was completely surprised.
From his tone and atmosphere, he seemed to be about 30 years old, which made his words all the more shocking. Because the “Priestess Clan” he talked about was supposed to be already buried in history.
“…I know I don’t look the part at all, but I’m actually an archeologist by trade. I know a fair bit about history.”
Zerum then looked at the two swords hanging from Feli’s waist.
His eyes narrowed slightly, but he showed no other reactions.
“…I guess someone from that clan could be of some use in battle.”
Zerum looked at Feli as if to appraise her, then — apparently losing interest — turned towards Lychaine.
“So you’re the little girl who can see…?”
He then looked at Lychaine from head to toe, as if she was goods on sale at the market. He repeated his examination several times, then sighed again.
“Well, I guess there’s a chance…”
Zerum walked away a few steps.
“Like the ‘Immortal’ said, I’m Zerum Barbatos. People call me ‘Faraway Hollow’.”
Guess I should take this off…
While mumbling this, Zerum grabbed the hood covering most of his face and brashly pulled it off.
A whisper of surprise could be heard, then Zerum clicked his tongue in irritation again.
His face was covered in painful-looking scars and his complexion looked rather sickly.
“…you better remember this face well. It would be a major pain if things turned bad and you attacked me because you don’t recognize my face.”
Zerum then covered his head with the hood again and turned around.
“…introductions are done, right? I’m leaving.”
With this curt greeting, Zerum walked away from the group. Everyone watched him go, but he did not turn around even once.
“Please do not be offended.”
After Zerum was far enough, Rowle spoke first.
Rowle laughed wryly. There seemed to be history between him and Zerum. He showed some sort of consideration towards the “Faraway Hollow”.
“He’s not a bad guy, really.”
His tone and words were crude, but his manners showed a hint of refinement.
He probably had some particular circumstances in his past. Most of those who saw him thought the same thing.
“Now we have four members on par with ‘Heroes’.”
Rowle put a hand inside his lab coat, as if he was checking something.
“Please prepare your weapons with the utmost care.”
The chemist then pulled out his hand.
He had probably checked his own weapons.
“If your conviction ever feels shaken, please let me know.”
Conviction, here, stands for resolve.
If anyone would turn tail and run when facing the monsters, there would be no point in them joining the mission. This sentiment was what motivated Rowle’s words.
“We will leave tomorrow morning, as in the following days there is a high chance of heavy rain.”
It would be ridiculous to conclude the mission with an excuse such as the seas being too rough and their inability to reach the island.
“Make sure you have a good rest today.”
Rowle showed a faint smile.
His expression was as clouded as the skies above them.